Washington Prowler

State Department Abandons Arrested Baptists

Spokesman Crowley likens orphan rescuers to drug-dealers. (Updated, 12:01 p.m.)

By 2.10.10

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UPDATE (12:01 p.m.): We've heard from several parties working on the release of the so-called "Baptist 10" being held in Haiti, and they passed along the following updates:

First, Jim Allen was able to speak to his wife, Lisa, yesterday afternoon.

Second, those involved believe that the State Department and others inside the U.S. government are doing whatever they can to gain the release of those being held there.

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The U.S. State Department launched a campaign against the 10 Baptist American citizens being held on charges related to their attempt to move a group of young Haitian children to a temporary orphanage in the Dominican Republic.

On Tuesday, responding to a request by attorneys for Jim Allen, a welder from Texas, who is being held in Port au Prince on charges of kidnapping and child trafficking, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley equated Allen's and the other missionaries' plight to that of drug dealers held by the Haitian government prior the earthquake. CNN reported: "Crowley said there are other Americans in custody in Haiti, in addition to the 10 Americans, but he provided no details of their identity or circumstances. Some are believed to be held on drug charges. 'There are other Americans in custody. I don't know what their charges are.... I think there were some in custody before the earthquake.'"

Crowley's comments came after he announced that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton would not intercede in the case, since, Crowley claimed, Haiti has a functioning government. Crowley also claimed that the State Department was doing everything it could to assist the families of the ten prisoners, this despite the fact that lawyers for many of the families report that spouses were not contacted directly by the State Department until Monday, February 8, more than a week after their arrest.

Last Friday, former President Bill Clinton called on his own government to work with the Haitian government to defuse the situation.

Lisa Allen, the wife of welder Jim Allen, was expected to begin speaking with the media on Wednesday morning. Allen, who lives in Texas and whose cousin was the pastor of a Baptist church in Idaho, chose to travel to Haiti when his cousin told him about the trip to aid orphans who were being moved due to their Haitian orphanage being destroyed by the earthquake. Allen, a welder by profession, thought his construction and welding skills might be of help to the Haitian people, and paid his own way to meet up with his cousin.

Since his arrest, Allen has not been able to communicate with his wife, though on Tuesday afternoon, Haitian officials were attempting to get a personal letter from her to him in the prison where he is being held.

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